Our rugby boys played out some close and fiercely competitive matches against Calday Grange GS on Saturday but, sadly, for the boys they were mostly on the wrong side of some close matches versus strong opposition.
The main excitement for the day was provided by the U12A who were playing their first match of rugby for the school after four weeks of preparation. In many cases, for both the Arnold boys and the visitors, it was their first ever match of rugby. Not surprisingly, both teams were keen to impress and try hard and it was the visitors who raced into an early 12-0 lead with the Arnold boys struggling positionally and missing a few tackles.
Captain, Josh Radley, played very well and he attempted to get his team moving forward. He and Peter Walton linked well in the half backs and after a quiet start, Max Walker and Cameron Harley really began to make their presence felt in the forwards. However, Calday defended really well and, despite having more than enough possession during the remainder of the match, the U12A could not cross the try line. Cameron Armour had a dymanic match and Ashley Wealthall also looked dangerous with the ball. Luke Hind hit the post with a second half penalty attempt as Calday held out for a 12-0 victory. The U12s will have learnt much from their first 50 minutes of rugby and they will now look forward to their second match against KEQMS, Lytham this Friday with both the U12A and U12B playing.
The 2nd XV Spartans won a quite brilliant encounter after trailing for the entire match. Despite a bright start the Spartans made a mess of an early lineout and they were put under pressure from Calday's pacey backs. A quick tap penalty stretched the home defence and a good score in the corner put the visitors 5-0 up. Further good running in broken play and superb scavenging from the opposition skipper soon led to 12-0 deficit.
Finally the home pack decided to drive the ball up the middle and tie in the rangy Calday backrow. And so it was that young fly-half, Andrew Walkden, chipped through for Joe Matthews who sprinted past several cover defenders leaving a simple conversion. It was now 12-7 and the 2nd XV would have a good wind behind them in the second half.
Sadly, Calday went further ahead as their quick 10 seized on a long line out and sprinted in untouched to make it 19-7. There were still 25 minutes to go and with the likes of Alex Casey, Jack Sprigg and Joe Shaw driving on and support runners feeding of Will Fairhead's half breaks this was turning into a fine game and there was still hope for the Spartans.
Matthews once again scored after great harrying defence and Bowen Feng finished off a flowing move to dive in the corner. It was still 19-17 to Calday and they looked to be in reasonable control and they still looked very dangerous with the ball in hand. A couple of cruel unforced errors put the 2nd XV five metres out and Fowler once again engineered some great space to put Kidner in for the winning score and 7 points. Desperate defence and Spartan spirit closed the game out leaving the 17 man squad delighted with a hard fought victory in a proper game of rugby.
Away from home, the injury and illness hit 1st XV did incredibly well to come close to claiming an away victory but despite captain, Tom Armfield’s best efforts and his own try, the 1st XV lost 23-13. Louis Mottley did very well as a make-shift scrum half and he and Sam Crowther combined well at half-back. James Aird worked tirelessly in the contact exchanges and the likes of Ben Mortimer, Josh Buckley and Tobias Cleaver-Ross impressed all afternoon but Calday were clinical in taking their chances. Alex Garrod and Harry McNulty ran themselves into the ground and Sam Crowther kicked his goals extremely well but Calday held out for a 23-13 victory. It was good to see the likes of James Haythornthwaite and Luke Smith making their 1st XV debuts and both contributed well.
The U15A came unstuck against some talented opposition as they lost 45-14. Good tries were scored by Matthew Radley and Chris Bottomley, and Bottomley was absolutely outstanding as he ran himself ragged all afternoon. Andrew Cowburn also impressed.
The U14A produced their best team performance of the season but they found their opponents tough to breakdown in defence as they lost 15-5. Oliver Greenwood-Taziker scored his first try of the season and Elliott Fackey and Will Nickson had very strong matches in attack and defence.
Away at Calday, the U13A worked hard but they lost by 32-0 with the efforts of Simran Singh and Matthew Barrett superb throughout.
On Tuesday evening, the U14A played in anabsolutely pulsating Lancashire Cup match against KEQMS, Lytham. It as a superb advert for the rugby being played in the local schools and it was the Lytham school who edged it by 19-18 with the game still there to be won in the final few minutes. Arnold took the lead through Ellis Whorlton-Jones who chased a long kick to crash over for a try in the first few minutes. Elliot Fackey then added the conversion and then a neat penalty as Arnold led 8-0 after just 7 minutes. KEQMS then hit back as they found a gap around the fringes of a maul to snipe through the blindside defence and then an intelligent cross-field kick was missed by Arnold and a fortunate bounce was gathered well by the KEQMS chasers and midway through the first half KEQMS led 14-8. rnold roared back but KEQMS defended well and another Fackey penalty at the end of the half reduced the arrears to 14-11.
Arnold U14A then started the second half extremely well with Vowles-Bradley unleashing his pacy backs. Rory Humphries made some yards and as the ball was recycled, Matthew Garrod drove over from 5 yards out. Fackey converted again and suddenly Arnold were 18-11 ahead. This time KEQMS fought back and with 15 minutes left they stole an Arnold ball from a maul 20 metres out and the KEQMS forward did really well to beat the last defender for vital score. The successful conversion made it 19-18 to KEQMS and this was how it stayed despite some late Arnold attacks and a long penalty attempt from wide out.